Former New York Knicks assistant coach Brendan Malone passed away today, Oct. 10, at the age of 81. The father of Denver Nuggets championship head coach Michael Malone, the elder Malone laid the way for his son with a lengthy coaching resume.
Knicks Assistant Worked His Way Up From High School Champion to the NCAA
Malone began his coaching career in 1967 for the storied Power Memorial High School as their junior varsity coach before graduating to varsity in 1970. They won the City championship in 1970 behind standout center Len Elmore.
His entry into the NCAA ranks came in 1976 when he served as an assistant on the Fordham University Rams’ sideline. Short stints with Fordham and Yale University opened the door for Malone to coach under Hall-of-Famer Jim Boeheim at Syracuse.
In six seasons with the Orange, Malone helped the powerhouse program reach the NCAA tournament four times — including a No. 1 seed in the Big East in 1980 — and was able to coach star guard Dwayne ‘Pearl’ Washington at the peak of the conference’s dominance in the collegiate ranks.
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The Knicks Opened the Door for Brendan Malone’s NBA Coaching Career
The Knicks gave Malone his first opportunity in the pros. He caught the tail end of former scoring champion Bernard King’s tenure with the team in 1986. Malone helped develop a young Patrick Ewing in his formative years after battling against his Georgetown Hoyas in the Big East.
In his first of three stints at Madison Square Garden, New York went 62-102 in forgettable fashion. Malone spent time with the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors before rejoining Ewing and the Knicks from 1996-2000, where he reached the NBA Finals as one of only two No. 8 seeds (2023 Miami Heat) to achieve said feat.
He made his final rounds in the Big Apple from 2003-2004, but by then, New York was well past their days of contention. Throughout his career, Malone has coached some of the biggest names in basketball, including Grant Hill (1995) , Reggie Miller (2000-03), LeBron James (2004-05) and Dwight Howard (2007-12) — the latter of which led him to his second Finals appearance in 2009.